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. 2015 Jan;94(1):68-79.
doi: 10.3382/ps/peu051.

Changes in the Protein Secondary Structure of Hen's Egg Yolk Determined by Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy During the First Eight Days of Incubation

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Changes in the Protein Secondary Structure of Hen's Egg Yolk Determined by Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy During the First Eight Days of Incubation

Sabrina Lilienthal et al. Poult Sci. .
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Abstract

In this study, incubation-induced alterations in the protein secondary structures of egg yolk and its major fractions (granules, plasma, and low-density lipoproteins [LDL]) were monitored during the first 8 d of embryogenesis using Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and isoelectric focusing (IEF). Two factors potentially connected with egg yolk protein secondary structure changes were evaluated, i.e., the pH value of incubated egg yolk, and phosvitin, an important egg yolk protein assumed to play an important role in hematopoiesis as the iron carrier during early embryogenesis. However, neither the significant increase in pH value (6.07 to 6.92) of egg yolk during incubation of fertilized eggs, nor the release of iron from phosvitin were found to be directly related to the changes in protein secondary structure in egg yolk and its fractions. FTIR showed that the protein conformation in whole egg yolk, granules, and LDL was stable during incubation, but separate evaluation of the plasma fraction revealed considerable changes in secondary structure. However, it is unlikely that these changes were provoked by structure changes of the proteins originally present in plasma; instead, the physiological influx of albumen into the yolk sac was expected to play an important role in the protein modifications of egg yolk, as was shown both by FTIR and IEF of the water-soluble egg yolk proteins. Moreover, FTIR was used to determine the naturally occurring proportions (%) of the secondary structure elements in egg yolk and its 3 fractions on d 0 of incubation. The granules fraction mainly consisted of a mixture of inter- and intramolecular β-sheets (57.04%±0.39%). The plasma fraction was found to consist mainly of α-helices (43.23%±0.27%), whereas LDL was composed almost exclusively of intramolecular β-sheets (67.36%±0.56%) or β-turns, or both. On the other hand, whole egg yolk was mainly composed of intermolecular β-sheets (39.77%±0.48%), potentially indicating molecular interchanges between the individual fractions.

Keywords: Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR); egg yolk fractions; incubation; protein secondary structure.

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